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Design Business Goals with Objectives and Key Results During COVID-19

Peter Doherty • Feb 3, 2020 • 3-min read
Tags: COVID-19 planning objectives key results OKRs management framework

The global shutdown resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted business objectives within organizations small and large. Finding new strategies to maintain business functions and growth in an environment that is slowly returning from lockdowns imposed earlier this year is a top priority for business managers and executives.

Objectives, Key Results (OKR’s) is a practical management framework to help navigate this environment and measure progress towards achieving business goals which may need to be fast tracked. This tool helps managers define clear, strategic goals and communicate a strategy for success.

Remote Working — Communicating Objectives Clearly

It’s claimed that between 65% and 93% of communication is nonverbal and with so many organizations shifting to a remote and distributed workforce for the immediate future, business objectives are at risk of being misunderstood or miscommunicated. Therefore, the practical nature of OKR’s as a tool is an ideal way to address the aforementioned gap. Additionally, OKR’s introduces transparency among the team regarding why a particular goal is being pursued, and what outcomes are expected.

Furthermore, if several objectives are being sought it can give a holistic picture to the team as to the strategy the business manager is seeking to execute. The benefit of this approach leads to a synchronized and motivated team. Further, an it shifts the tactial approach of achieving results from an output approach to an outcome mindset.

Get Started

OKR’s can be set quarterly, with daily, weekly or bi-weekly updates of the progress to be recorded by a “goal keeper” or project manager. This depends on the approach that the team feels most comfortable with.

The basic function of the tool is described in the steps below, however additional criteria can be appended where necessary:

  1. Define an objective - this is the “end product” that you wish to achieve as a result of the efforts of the team/organization
  2. List at most five key results/outcomes - these are metrics that have a starting number and target number. This demonstrates progress towards the result pursued
  3. Design an initiative - this is a short description of action undertaken to achieve the outcomes listed in point 2 above. The use of metrics is optional but recommended.

An example of an OKR is shown in the plot below.

Benefits

The benefits of adopting OKR’s are summarized hereafter:

  • Aligns team members
  • Communicates strategy
  • Fosters collaboration
  • Emphasis on outcomes rather than output
  • Transparent
  • Actionable and measurable
  • Motivates employees
Use Cases

OKR’s can be deployed to any business function such as:

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Operations
  • Quality Control
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
Conclusions

During a period of transition such as the shift in business environments during COVID-19, it’s important to stay agile and focused. The OKR framework can be a effective tool to define specific objectives and measure results while encouraging remote collaboration among teams. It’s flexibility means that it can coexist with agile project management methodologies such as Scrum, and is a powerful tool to fast track progress towards achieving business goals.

Contact us for a free Microsoft Excel template or if you require support when designing your OKR’s.

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